Clash in Lanao del Norte: Soldier, ‘Commander Mercury’ killed
ILIGAN CITY— A soldier and an alleged terrorist were killed in the latest encounter between government forces and remnants of the Dawlah Islamiya/Maute Group in Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte, authorities said Monday.
One of the fatalities was identified as Army Staff Sergeant Edgar Lumantas, of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion while the other was named as Commander Mercury or Hadji Rasol Mambuay, allegedly from the ISIS-inspired Maute group.
Lt Col. Bernard Taqueban, commanding officer of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said they were in a joint law enforcement operation with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and local police against Commander Mercury and his cohort, identified as Dinalan Dimnatang Ibrahim Imam alias “Papayungan,” last September 30 in Barangay Upper Dimayon when the fire fight erupted. The gun battle occurred for 10 minutes.
Lumantas succumbed to a lone gunshot wound on his right eye from Commander Mercury’s fire arm.
“Nung papasukin na sana nila (ang bahay kung saan nagtatago si Commander Mercury), ayaw lumabas. Pagsipa (ni Lumantas) sa pinto nagkabulagaan na. Just so happened na ang posisyon ni SSgt. Lumantas was directly sa kanya (Commander Mercury), sila ang nagharap. Kaya nung nabaril siya (Lumantas), nakaganti siya ng baril kay Mercury kaya tinamaan din at napatay si Mercury,” Taqueban said in an interview.
Who is Commander Mercury?
Taqueban, citing reports from their intelligence unit said Commander Mercury was formerly a sub-commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but did not make it clear on what group he belongs.
When Commander Mercury joined the Dawlah Islamiya’s attack in Marawi City last year, he was disowned by the MILF leadership, according to the Army official. Commander Mercury was able to escape the skirmish in Marawi City.
When martial law was declared in Mindanao, Commander Mercury was included in the list of individuals who have an arrest order, Taqueban noted.
“When he joined the siege in Marawi City last year with the Maute, tinanggal siya sa liderato ng MILF,” Taqueban noted.
Commander Mercury, he further said, is a known expert in making improvised explosive device (IED).
“Bomb-maker siya. Makikita kahapon dahil as pinangyarihan, nandun ang sign, indicators na ginagamit sa paggawa ng bomba,” Taqueban added.
Who is Papayungan?
Papayungan, a resident of Tagoloan, is known for his kidnap-for-ransom activities.
He has a standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping cases.
The military believed Papayungan cuddled Commander Mercury in his place in Tagoloan for a long time.
“We implemented the operation because the report from the community was persistent and positive that the two were hiding there. They were sharing their resources and waiting for the right time na makapaghasik ng lagim,” Taqueban said.
Marawi City siege survivor
Lumantas was the detachment commander in Upper Dimayon when the operation was implemented.
“He volunteered to lead the operation because he said he knew the area. He was still alive when he was being brought to a hospital in Iligan City but was declared dead upon arrival,” Taqueban said.
During the Marawi City siege, Lumantas was part of the Task Group Bakal and assigned as driver of the team that resupplied troops inside the main battle area with ammunitions, and firearms, among others.
A native of Oroquieta City in Misamis Occidental, Lumantas was a married man with a son.
A day before Lumantas was killed, he went home in Iligan City to join the fiesta procession with his wife and their child on September 29.
He went back to the Army detachment in the afternoon.
“I can’t believe it was the last time I could see him alive. He is a very good husband. Even if I yell at him when I got mad, he just smiles,” said Lumantas’ wife while admitting that she finds it difficult to accept her husband is now gone.
“Our baby would always go near the coffin to wake him up because he thinks he (Lumantas) is only sleeping,” she added. /kga
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